Chevy Trail­blazer 2.8 LTZ

In our quest to find the per­fect bro­ker wheels ( and en­sure that RISKSA is the only magazine you’ll ever need to read) we con­tinue this se­ries of driver im­pres­sions. This month we test the Chevro­let Trail­blazer. This big Chevy is re­ally some­thing on the r

RISKSA Magazine - - CONTENTS - Andy Mark

The space in­side the cabin is cav­ernous. Ac­com­mo­da­tion varies from two to seven seats with the rear two for­ward­fac­ing seats big enough for all but the largest adult. In LTZ 4x4 guise, the Trail­blazer sports a BMW- es­que cen­tral con­trol knob to dial in four- by low range or four- by high range. Not quite on the fly though, the ve­hi­cle needs to slow down to un­der 5 km/ h to com­plete the pro­ce­dure. Our test ve­hi­cle ar­rived, for­tu­itously, just be­fore the 16 June long week­end, and I used the op­por­tu­nity to load up the fam­ily and head off to our farm in the Klein Ka­roo – where we have just the sort of tracks and roads to put the car through its paces. We left Cape Town in the mid­dle of a del­uge in af­ter­noon traf­fic. An ef­fi­cient demis­ter com­ple­mented the LTZ’s re­as­sur­ing ride height and wide- bod­ied stance on the slick roads. The traf­fic thinned con­sid­er­ably af­ter the Stel­len­bosch turn- off on the N1, and af­ter naugh­tily con­nect­ing my iPhone to the Blue­tooth in- car au­dio sys­tem while driv­ing, I set­tled down to en­joy all 500 Nm of torque the 2.8 diesel had to of­fer, and sub­jected the fam­ily to my best road- trip­ping iTunes playlist. With all the back seat room avail­able, my daugh­ters were able to oc­cupy them­selves with­out en­croach­ing into each oth­ers per­sonal space too of­ten – which made for a much more re­laxed drive than we are used to. Sep­a­rate rear air con­di­tion­ing and re­verse sen­sors with cam­era, add to a pretty com­plete spec list for the big four- by.

The prob­lem with test­ing a ve­hi­cle that has been in a test fleet for some time, is that oc­ca­sion­ally the ve­hi­cle ar­rives ( with the great­est re­spect to my fel­low mo­tor­ing scribes) a lit­tle, shall we say, ham­mered? Which is ac­tu­ally a good thing. Ten thou­sand kilo­me­tre’s of hell by mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists will of­ten be a good in­di­ca­tor of how a car will hold up to abuse by kids, fam­ily and that camp­ing hol­i­day in Namibia. The Chevy had an an­noy­ing wheel bal­ance wob­ble right on the 120 km/ h mark – prob­a­bly as a re­sult of some pre­vi­ous jour­nal­ists off- road work knock­ing the wheels out of bal­ance, and cer­tainly no re­flec­tion of the car’s dura­bil­ity. The test ve­hi­cle also had one of the straps on the rear- most seats miss­ing. The strap is used to dis­en­gage the seat back from its folded po­si­tion and with­out it we were un­able to lift the seat at all. In the main, the build qual­ity and trim level is ad­e­quate for this sec­tor, but the Chevy is cer­tainly no Land Rover in terms of driver ac­cou­trements and trim lev­els. The leather seats and plas­tics are easy enough to wipe down and keep clean though, and de­spite ev­i­dence of its hard life as a test car, the LTZ seemed to be hold­ing up bril­liantly. My only dis­ap­point­ment re­ally came on the hills be­tween Ron­nie’s Sex Shop on the R62 and Cal­itz­dorp, where, even with 500 Nm at its dis­posal, the auto box just couldn’t seem to find the right ra­tio for the in­cline and hunted up and down the five speed box, look­ing for the right cogs. Once we were on the farm the LTZ came into its own and shrugged off ev­ery­thing I threw at her. The track be­hind the farm­house, which is lit­tered with size­able boul­ders and usu­ally elic­its shrieks of de­light ( or ter­ror) from my girls ev­ery time we drive it in my Se­ries II Land Rover game viewer, this time hardly elicited a re­sponse from them, as the Chevy’s de­scent con­trol and de­cent ride- height made short work of the ob­sta­cles. In sum­mary, this is a very ca­pa­ble fam­ily car. Big and im­pos­ing enough to drive to the FIA awards or in­dus­try golf day with­out look­ing out of place amongst more ex­pen­sive Ger­man SUV’s. At a shade over R500 000 in test car trim, the dif­fer­ence be­tween the LTZ and lets say an X5 or a Land Rover Disco, will save you enough to put down a de­posit on that lit­tle place in the coun­try you’ve al­ways dreamed of, so you’ll have some­where to drive the LTZ to on week­ends. Your clients are also not go­ing to won­der about the amount of com­mis­sion you earn on their poli­cies in the way they might if you had to rock up to their of­fices in, say, a Porsche Cayenne. If you are look­ing for a ca­pa­ble 4x4 SUV, you would do well to put the Chevy through its paces af­ter you’ve driven the Toy­ota For­tuner and the Ford Ever­est – its two ri­vals in the car- on- a- bakkieframe seg­ment. I have a feel­ing you won't be dis­ap­pointed.

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